Interprofessional Center

for Counseling & Legal Services

Melissa Martinez awarded the University of St. Thomas School of Law Outstanding Clinic Student of the Year


We are very pleased to announce the selection of Melissa Martinez as the recipient of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) UST Outstanding Student of the Year. The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) created the award to honor a law student at each law school who has excelled in a clinical course.  

The criteria for the award are:

1.      excellence in the field work component of the clinical course determined by the quality of the student's performance in assisting or representing individual clients or in undertaking group advocacy or policy reform projects;

2.      excellence in the seminar component of the clinical course determined by the quality of the student's thoughtfulness and self  reflection in exploring the legal, ethical, strategic and other pertinent issues raised by the particular clinic; and

3.      the nature and extent of the student's contribution to the clinical community at that school, if relevant.

Ms. Martinez “has directly helped hundreds of indigent clients at various stages as their cases progress through the criminal district court and indirectly helped thousands more in her work on the “Ban the Box” initiative and on a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to prevent a large retailer from having a blanket policy to refuse to interview anyone with a criminal record” according to her nominator, Shawn Webb, Assistant State Public Defender and Adjunct Faculty at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. 

A double major in the Juris Doctor-Master of Arts degree in Public Policy and Leadership programs, Ms. Martinez has impressed her supervising faculty with her skill, intellect and understanding both representing indigent clients in the criminal courts and her public policy work.  Dr. Artika Tyner, Director of Diversity and Clinical Faculty in the School of Law, who supervised Melissa as a student in the Community Justice Project wrote, “Melissa advanced the campaign for bridging the racial jobs gap. She was a key player in influencing Target (Corporation)’s reform policy related to Ban the Box. Her greatest strengths were (the) ability to engage in strategic planning, build rapport with community members, and organize the EEOC complaint process. She exceeded my expectations on all fronts and advanced this campaign for not only statewide reform but national reform.”

Ms. Martinez has consistently demonstrated a deft ability to learn new skills, work in a stressful environment and handle issues as they arise in a calm, professional manner. Ms. Martinez is a convincing advocate and has shown leadership, reliability and a sense of selfless service to the tasks that she has undertaken, the causes she has worked on, and the clients that she represents.  Ms. Martinez is highly respected by her School of Law classmates and faculty, as well as individuals outside of the School of Law.  Last fall, Ms. Martinez was awarded the Minnesota Justice Foundation 2013 Outstanding Service Award.

Congratulations Melissa, CLEA University of St. Thomas Outstanding Student of the Year!


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